Health chiefs give backing to plain cig packets

Proposed plain packaged cigarettes
Proposed plain packaged cigarettes

WIGAN health chiefs have welcomed calls to have laws passed to ensure plain packaging for cigarettes.

Ministers this week voted in favour of the Department of Health’s confirmation that it is finally bringing forward the regulations amid fears it would not be passed before the next General Election next year.

Prof Kate Ardern, Wigan Council’s director of public health, said: “Wigan Council became the first in England to pass a motion supporting plain packaging for tobacco products in March 2012. Therefore, I’m pleased there’s progress on this issue but would like to see things move even faster. Delay risks more people becoming exposed to tobacco marketing and being tempted to begin a deadly habit.

“The campaign for plain packaging is not primarily aimed at stopping existing smokers, who will often have smoked the same brand for a considerable period. The focus is on stopping young people starting smoking. Children should not be subject to tobacco marketing.”

The move will not necessarily guarantee plain packaging will be pushed through before the May election. The statement will say there will be a further, short public consultation and negotiations with the EU, which will take about six months, before the plans are enacted in the UK.

The new, second consultation is thought to be necessary to help the government defeat any legal moves to delay or outlaw plain packaging by tobacco firms, which fear it will damage their profits.

There have also been fears raised that the simplification of packaging will lead to a hike in counterfeit tobacco smuggling and sales. But the Trading Standards Institute said tobacco products are already easy to counterfeit so that argument is irrelevant.